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Cartersville girls stunned by Chapel Hill

 

RANDY PARKER/THE DAILY TRIBUNE NEWS Cartersville senior guard Addie Smith scans the court during Monday's Region 5-AAAA tournament game against Chapel Hill at The Storm Center.

When the postseason starts, every team essentially becomes 0-0.

Then again, it's impossible to forget what happened in the regular season. 

When facing a team that went 1-23, finished winless in region play and lost to you twice, it's easy for high school players to let it influence the game.

Sometimes, it influences the final score.

That was the case Monday as No. 7 seed Chapel Hill shocked the sixth-seeded Cartersville girls, 33-31, in the Region 5-AAAA play-in game at The Storm Center.

"I think one of the things that probably stands out to me is we were playing not to lose, especially the third quarter, instead of playing to win," Canes coach Cindy Moore said. "... We missed at least 20 shots we would consider gimmies or high-percentage shots, and when you miss those, your confidence gets away from you.

"It's disappointing, but I've always said this as long as I've been coaching, it's hard to beat a team three times."

Having defeated the Panthers by 11 and nine points, respectively, during their two prior meetings, the Canes seemed to think they would be able to ease to a win, which would have set up a first-round matchup at Troup County on Tuesday.

"Sure, I think you're human," Moore said of the previous meetings making her team overconfident. "You can always say it doesn't factor in, but it does. We felt like if we did what we needed to do, we would have and should have won the game."

Early on, Cartersville (8-16) looked like it would cruise, jumping out to a 10-2 lead after one period with five different girls scoring from the field.

The visitors, though, fought back behind the play of Savannah Howard, who finished with a game-high 15 points.

The freshman scored eight points, including a buzzer-beating jumper, in the second quarter to pull the Panthers within 19-17 at the break.

In the third quarter, Chapel Hill, which had lost 20 straight games entering Monday, continued to put the pressure on the hosts, ultimately carrying a 27-23 lead into the final period.

"When you have nothing to lose, you lay it all out there," Moore said. "And they did. ... That's what it's about at tournament time. That's why you play. That's why you never just say the higher seed is going on."

Neither team scored through the first four-plus minutes of the fourth quarter before Howard hit a free throw.

Naijah Evans provided the first Cartersville points of the period with just 1:17 left in regulation. Following an illegal screen on the Panthers, Ariana Cochran scored on the next possession to pull the Canes within 29-27 with exactly a minute to go.

Kimani Smith hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to four before Kalli Scheff, who led Cartersville with nine points in her final game, answered with a layup.

Smith, who wound up with eight points, hit another freebie for a three-point lead. Cochran responded with a pair of foul shots to pull within 32-31.

With nine seconds left, Howard missed a pair from the line to give Cartersville one last chance to win the game.

However, Cio Seigler's contested 3-point attempt hit off the corner of the backboard and went out of bounds with 1.4 seconds remaining, essentially sealing the Panthers' upset win.

"You feel for your seniors on a night like this," Moore said of Scheff and Addie Smith. "They're both great young ladies and do everything we ask them to do.

"We fought, we got it back to one and we had a chance with the ball to take the lead. But we didn't get a good enough shot."

Moore, now, can only look forward after the end of a tough season.

But she took solace in the fact that she went through the campaign — the good times and the bad — with a great group of girls.

"As a coach, optimistically, you look and think we do have a lot coming back," Moore said. "We obviously have things to work on, and we recognize that.

"Biggest thing I want to say is that these are great young ladies. We never have to worry about them off the court or in the classroom, and as a coach, that's a blessing."

 

Last modified onMonday, 05 February 2018 23:33
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